Jean-Pierre Rampal, Vol. II;  Lily Laskine, Francis Poulenc, Robert Gendre, Colette Lequien & Robert Bex  (2-St Laurent Studio YSL T-1347)
Item# W0052
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Jean-Pierre Rampal, Vol. II;  Lily Laskine, Francis Poulenc, Robert Gendre, Colette Lequien & Robert Bex  (2-St Laurent Studio YSL T-1347)
W0052. JEAN-PIERRE RAMPAL, LILY LASKINE, FRANCIS POULENC, ROBERT GENDRE, COLETTE LEQUIEN & ROBERT BEX: Françaix, Debussy, Poulenc, Roussel, Martelli, Pierné, Ibert & Schmitt. [Altogether a delicious program, particularly the irresistible Martelli & Pierné] (Canada) 2-St Laurent Studio YSL T-1347, Live Performance, 18 June, 1957, Strasbourg, France.


"Jean-Pierre Rampal, the French-born flutist who was the first virtuoso on his instrument to enjoy enormous success and celebrity as a touring soloist and who almost single-handedly took the flute to new levels of popularity in the decades after World War II, was the first flutist to attain the kind of visibility and presence that previously had gone only to virtuoso pianists and violinists. Mr. Rampal regularly filled the world's largest concert halls, even at times the Hollywood Bowl, for his recitals and chamber music performances, and in his prime he gave more than 100 concerts a year.

Mr. Rampal's popularity was grounded in qualities that won him consistent praise from critics and musicians in the first decades of his career: solid musicianship, technical command, uncanny breath control, and a distinctive tone that eschewed Romantic richness and warm vibrato in favor of clarity, radiance, focus and a wide palette of colorings. Younger flutists assiduously studied and tried to copy his approaches to tonguing, fingering, embouchure and breathing.

Reviewing Mr. Rampal's performance in Mozart's Concerto for Flute and Harp with the New York Philharmonic in 1976, THE NEW YORK TIMES critic Harold C. Schonberg wrote, 'Mr. Rampal, with his effortless long line, his sweet and pure tone and his sensitive musicianship, is of course one of the great flutists in history'.

His entrance into concert life coincided with a revival of interest in Baroque music, which Mr. Rampal championed. Still, much of his popularity came from his presence and energy as a performer. At 6 feet 1 inch, with a bearlike build and erect stance, he looked imposing when he walked on stage. But once he started to play, he seemed the essence of French elegance, taste and poise. As recently as 1998, at a concert in Boston's Symphony Hall, though Mr. Rampal was recuperating from knee surgery, fighting a cold and clearly uncomfortable, his performance moved the BOSTON GLOBE critic Richard Dyer to note that the 'level of Mr. Rampal's skill and the charm of his personality had not changed'.

'In 1945, with the Germans out of Paris, I was getting happier every minute' he later recalled in his 1989 autobiography, MUSIC, MY LOVE, which has been translated into four languages. Accounting for the French penchant for early music at the time, he further wrote: 'The beat to which the city marched was one dear to my heart. Baroque music was the sentiment of the day. Bach, Haydn, Handel, Vivaldi & Co., with their precise, measured music, gave the public the security and sense of order that the war had taken away. You knew where this music was going and what it would do'.

In 1945, he was invited to join the orchestra of the Paris Opéra. He became its principal flutist in 1958 and held the position for six years. But he simultaneously pursued his solo career, starting in 1946 when he began a long association with the pianist and harpsichordist Robert Veyron-Lacroix. That year he also made his first formal recording (Mozart's Quartet in D for Flute and Strings). In 1947, he married Françoise Bacqueyrisse, a harpist. The security he gained from his marriage, which produced two children, emboldened him to undertake concert tours as a solo flutist, at the time an untried idea. The risk paid off. In 1948, he formed the Ensemble Baroque de Paris, which enjoyed considerable success. By the 1950s he was touring Europe as a recitalist. In 1958, he and Mr. Veyron-Lacroix made their first ambitious concert tour of the United States and Canada, the highlight of which was a performance at Carnegie Hall of works by Handel, Bach, Beethoven and Prokofiev, as well as a Poulenc sonata written for him."

- Anthony Tommasini, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 21 May, 2000

"Francis Poulenc's music is eminently tuneful, his major strength. I regard him as a melodist fit to keep company with Franz Schubert and Wolfgang Mozart. As a French songwriter, he is the great successor to Fauré. Like most French composers of his generation he fell under the influences of Stravinsky and Satie. Yet he doesn't imitate either. You can identify a Poulenc composition immediately with its bright colors, strong, clear rhythms, and gorgeous and novel diatonic harmonies. He is warmer and less intellectual than Stravinsky, more passionate and musically more refined than Satie.Poulenc's own brand of classicism, recalling eighteenth-century France rather than Mozart's realm. Some composers, like Beethoven, aim at a Titanic profundity. They rage and storm and consider the universe. Others, like Delius and Ravel, dream of worlds more beautiful than this one. Poulenc, like Haydn and Schubert, is one of the few great composers not only content with, but modestly amazed at, being human. The music doesn't strive for the extraordinary, not even the religious music. What's in us is extraordinary enough. There's a sincere simplicity of effect, this, in spite of the fact that his music doesn't really develop in the Brahmsian sense of the word. Generally, Poulenc just strings together one great tune after another. Poulenc never really cottoned to the symphony and wrote few orchestral works not tied to the theater."

- Steve Schwartz, ClassicalNet